Groove-y bass master Freekbass celebrates the release of his new CD, Everybody's Feelin' Real, with a Sunday, April 13, gig at Woodlands Tavern. The Cincinnati resident is a bassist first, and a baseball fan only slightly second. He was kind enough to provide a few A's for a few Q's from The Beat.
The Beat: What was your initial attraction to the idea of playing bass and how did you get started?
Freekbass: I actually started as a drummer, moved to guitar, and then went to where I felt most comfortable and liked the sounds the most. I still think of myself as a drummer that plays notes. The first time I heard the bass up close and knew that was the instrument I had to play was in fourth grade. Oberlin College Jazz Band came to our school to perform and I was sitting right in front of the bassist. The low-pitched sounds that came out of those four thick strings changed the way I heard music. It was rhythm and tones, and it was something I knew I had to play.
TB: Does making music on bass always start with a groove? Why or why not?
FB: For me, yes. I always hear the rhythm and groove first and then the notes after. The bass is that bridge between the drums/rhythm and the melodic world (keys, guitar, etc.) Our musical brain is always split between the two. I think that is a big reason why you see a lot of bassists become producers, since they have a good understanding of both the rhythmic and the melodic worlds.
TB: Talk a little about the teaching you've done recently.
FB: I really enjoy teaching bass and think it is kind of a responsibility if you are a musician. I used to just teach privately out of Cincinnati, but a few years ago a couple of instructional companies out of New York and Florida (The RockHouse Method and TrueFire) hired me to do instructional DVDs. Not long after that, TrueFire.com started online private lessons and asked me to be a teacher. It is great because now no matter what part of the world you live in, we can do bass lessons together. One of my current students lives in Germany, and a past one was from Serbia. It is a great way to teach privately to folks that ask me while I am on the road. You can check it out at TrueFire.com and search "Freekbass."
TB: Do you go into making a new record with certain musical ideas or concepts? How is Everybody's Feelin' Real a result of your approach?
FB: For sure, and I, along with Producer Duane Lundy, had a very distinct vision for Everybody's Feelin' Real. We wanted to try and bridge the gap between older funk records we fell in love with, such as There's a Riot Goin' On by Sly & The Family Stone, and bring it into the future. Keep it organic and analogue with a digital sensibility.
TB: You've played with some pretty cool musicians. Any that stand out to you, or anyone you'd love to jam with that you haven't had the chance to ... yet?
FB: Thanks much, and I always feel so lucky, blessed and humbled to have had a chance to jam, play and write with some of my musical heroes and mentors. I really want to work with Dr. Dre at some point. He has such a heart and mind for bass and rhythm and also melody. Also, I would love to work with David Bowie in some capacity.
TB: What do you think are the Reds' chances this season?
FB: A-ha! You found my real passion. It is called "Bass-Ball." I think people are underestimating the Reds a bit this year. They still have the nucleus of the team that has gone to the playoffs three out of four years. And their pitching is solid. If they can stay healthy, I think they have a very good chance going to the playoffs again and advancing. They are going to be exciting to watch with players like speed-demon Billy Hamilton, and I think Jay Bruce is going to have a big year. And (Joey) Votto will be Votto, which is always good.